Monday, February 19 , 2018, 12:18 am | Fair 51º


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Missile-Launch Protesters Plead Not Guilty to Trespassing at Vandenberg AFB

15 activists were arrested in February after crossing the line between the designated protest area and the base itself

The 15 protesters arrested Feb. 25 while trespassing at Vandenberg Air Force Base all pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court.

Dozens of people protested the test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, and 15 of them crossed the line between the designated protest area and the base itself, for which they were arrested. The missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Among the defendants are activists from all over the country, including Daniel Ellsberg, known for releasing the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in action in Iraq, and David Krieger, president of Santa Barbara’s Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

“ICBM launches have become business as usual from Vandenberg and they shouldn’t be,” Krieger said outside the courthouse. “The tests are a continuation of the nuclear arms race and are provocative for other nations. We can’t set an example that it’s all right for us to do it and not for other countries.”

He said he and other defendants wanted to stop the missile launch through a show of civil resistance, claiming it violates the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

“It’s a display of might but it doesn’t make us any safer,” Berkeley activist Cynthia Papermaster said.

The group protested the cost, too, since each test launch reportedly costs upward of $20 million.

Ellsberg didn’t attend Thursday’s court hearing, but his attorney came in his place.

The trial for all of the defendants is set for Oct. 16, and Krieger said most of them are defending themselves.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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